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The Upcoming Roster Jam!

Don't count your chickens before they hatch...but it's too much fun to speculate

John Jaso Represents a Conundrum
John Jaso Represents a Conundrum
Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

In the next few weeks, the Rays are expected to be rejoined by several players returning from stints on the DL. This will inevitably cause a log jam as the Rays have had superb performances from the injured players' replacements, such as Joey Butler and David DeJesus. The first player to return will be Tim Beckham who's currently on a rehab assignment with Charlotte.

Beckham has already proven he can hit major league pitching this year (at least for power), but he could still be bound for Durham if the Rays brass decides they'd rather stick with Nick Franklin. Matt Moore, who hasn't thrown a major league pitch since April of last year, should make his season debut sometime next week with Matt Andriese presumably being the odd-man out.

Now those moves should be fairly easy for the Rays to make, here's where it gets tricky.

Name W L SV G GS IP ERA FIP WAR
STARTERS Chris Archer 9 4 0 16 16 103 2.1 2.23 3.4
Matt Andriese 2 2 2 10 5 35.2 3.79 4.73 -0.1
Nate Karns 4 3 0 15 15 85 3.28 3.94 0.9
Erasmo Ramirez 6 2 0 17 10 61.2 4.23 3.7 0.7
Alex Colome 3 3 0 11 11 56 4.5 4.82 0.1
RETURNING Jake Odorizzi 4 5 0 12 12 76.2 2.47 2.97 1.8
Matt Moore (Rehab #'s) 0 1 0 4 4 16.1 2.76 4.74 NA
RELIEVERS Steve Geltz 1 2 2 33 2 34.1 2.1 2.78 0.7
Kevin Jepsen 1 5 5 34 0 31 2.61 3.81 0.2
Brad Boxberger 4 3 19 31 0 28.2 2.83 3.77 0.2
Xavier Cedeno 1 0 0 26 0 16.1 2.76 3.59 0.2
Jake McGee 0 0 3 15 0 14 1.93 0.96 0.7
Ronald Belisario 0 0 0 3 0 4.2 5.79 3.1 0
Kirby Yates 0 0 0 4 0 4.1 4.15 3.8 0
Brandon Gomes 1 3 0 25 0 25.1 2.84 4.29 0

Jake Odorizzi, John Jaso, and James Loney should all be returning in the next few weeks. James Loney, is an easy decision as Jake Elmore is going to be sent down.

When Odorizzi returns, he'll have to replace either Nathan Karns or Alex Colome. When Jaso returns, he'll be displacing Joey Butler, who has been phenomenal to the point of making a case that he should start every day.

Nathan Karns and Alex Colome both haven't been great, but they've given the Rays a chance to compete at least. Colome could be moved to the pen and Kirby Yates could find himself back in Durham, but the Rays brass may want to limit Nathan Karns's workload and instead move him to the pen. There's always the piggy-back strategy where both pitchers go on the same day, hopefully saving the pen, but that leaves the Rays a man short in the pen if needed on other days. Or, they could even go with a six man rotation allowing each starter an extra day rest which could soften each pitcher's workload. It will definitely be interesting to see what they do.

Then you have John Jaso. He of the 1.000 OBP and very fragile wrist. John Jaso opened the Rays offensive season by walking, then subsequently getting picked off and injuring his wrist to the point where he couldn't pick up a bat for a month. Jaso was acquired this offseason and was supposed to provide the Rays a solid leadoff hitter who got on base, but now he's returning to a lineup that doesn't have an obvious spot for him. The reason? Joey Butler.

Joey Butler was promoted from Durham when Desmond Jennings went down an injury, and he has not stopped hitting. Unfortunately, Butler doesn't play the field very well, so works best as a designated hitter. The Rays outfield as been outstanding as DeJesus, Souza, Kiermaier, and Guyer combine to keep almost all fly balls from landing.

So, what to do with Jaso?

Name G PA HR R RBI SB BB% K% BABIP AVG OBP SLG wRC+ WAR
CATCHERS Rene Rivera 64 205 3 10 16 0 3.90% 24.90% 0.203 0.162 0.203 0.262 30 -0.8
Curt Casali 5 12 1 1 1 0 8.30% 41.70% 0.4 0.273 0.333 0.545 150 0.1
INFIELDERS Asdrubal Cabrera 70 267 5 21 17 3 6.40% 22.10% 0.25 0.206 0.262 0.327 65 0.6
Jake Elmore 32 108 1 7 13 1 6.50% 16.70% 0.284 0.245 0.29 0.327 76 -0.3
Logan Forsythe 73 289 8 28 32 7 9.00% 15.60% 0.327 0.292 0.374 0.451 139 2.5
Nick Franklin 28 78 1 8 3 1 7.70% 30.80% 0.191 0.139 0.205 0.25 30 -0.8
Evan Longoria 72 292 7 32 33 1 10.60% 19.50% 0.321 0.274 0.356 0.409 116 2.1
OUTFIELDERS Steven Souza 69 275 14 39 31 10 11.30% 33.10% 0.301 0.228 0.321 0.448 121 1.4
David DeJesus 60 189 5 18 23 3 6.90% 14.80% 0.321 0.291 0.349 0.430 124 0.9
Joey Butler 45 169 6 19 20 5 4.10% 26.00% 0.422 0.327 0.367 0.503 150 1.2
Kevin Kiermaier 70 245 4 32 15 8 4.10% 17.10% 0.312 0.267 0.303 0.435 109 2.8
Brandon Guyer 57 173 2 18 16 7 6.40% 15.60% 0.317 0.272 0.355 0.377 115 1.2
RETURNING FROM DL John Jaso 1 1 0 0 0 0 100.00% 0.00% 0.000 0.000 1.000 0.000 365 0
Tim Beckham 37 105 5 13 16 3 6.70% 29.50% 0.246 0.213 0.267 0.426 93 0.2
James Loney 30 118 2 11 11 1 6.80% 8.50% 0.286 0.275 0.322 0.376 96 -0.2

Is there anyone on there that you're willing to sacrifice in exchange for Jaso? Casali is the backup, and Beckham/Franklin provide a valuable utility role. The only players who seem to be replaceable are David DeJesus and Brandon Guyer. The former of which has been excellent for the Rays this year and is at least partially responsible for them being in first place. Perhaps the team could sell high on him and find a trade partner, but that seems rather cruel to do and would be a gut punch to the Rays faithful as DeJesus has become a crowd favorite.

The other potential candidate is Brandon Guyer, who seems to have fallen out of favor after he cooled off from his hot start. Right now, he's only getting real playing time when the team faces lefties. So, there's the possibility of just giving Jaso, Butler, and DeJesus equal playing time by circulating them from DH to the outfield.

Now anything could happen in the upcoming weeks. Rays players have been falling like flies this year so a spot could certainly open up for Jaso on the active roster. Another thing to keep in mind as well is the fact that there is only one spot open on the 40-man roster, and when Matt Moore comes back, he'll take the final spot. So, when Jaso is activated the Rays will also need to clear a spot on the 40-man roster as well. There are also several different way the Rays could go about clearing this spot, either DFA'ing Preston Guilmet or simply pushing Desmond Jennings to the 60-day DL.

When the Rays arrive at the all-star break, the team could have a totally different feel

1 Jaso DH Archer SP
2 Butler LF Odorizzi SP
3 Longoria 3B Ramirez SP
4 Loney 1B Moore SP
5 Forsythe 2B Karns SP
6 Souza RF
7 Cabrera SS Colome LR
8 Rivera C Gomes MR
9 Kiermaier CF Riefenhauser MR
BENCH Jepsen SU
Casali C McGee SU
Beckham UTL Boxberger CL
DeJesus OF Geltz MR
Cedeno LOOGY

Whatever is done, it'll be interesting to follow, to say the least.